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Zaila Avant-garde Becomes First African-American to Win Spelling Bee

In the Bee's 96-year legacy, this is the first time an African-American took the cup home.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>An eighth grader from Louisiana is the first of the African-American descent to win the Spelling Bee.</p></div>
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Basketball prodigy, the eighth grader Zaila Avant-garde becomes the first African-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Having participated once before, she fell short and had tied at the 370th position.

On Thursday, 8 July, she spelt the word 'Murraya' correctly and jumped at winning the trophy.

In the Bee's 96-year legacy, this is the first time an African-American and only the second time, a Black champion took the cup home.

The only other time, the Bee had a Black winner was in 1998 with Jamaica's Jody-Anne Maxwell emerging as the victor. Zaila Avant-garde also broke the winning streak of South Asians since 2008.

The fourteen year old practiced for seven hours a day to prepare for her win. Only one word was troubled her, "napeta" which she eventually spelt right.

Avant-garde is not just a spelling bee champ, she is one such child prodigy who holds three Guinness world records for ball dribbling. She hopes to play in the WNBA some day and calls Spelling Bee, "a side hobby".

Zaila Avant-garde Becomes First African-American to Win Spelling Bee

photo credits: twitter/@SpellingBee

Runner-Up and Third Position Go to Indian Americans

Both Zaila and runner-up Chaitra Thummala, a 12-year-old Indian American from Texas were coached by Cole Shafer-Ray, a Yale student and the 2015 runner-up.

Thirteen-year-old Bhavana Madini, another Indian American, stood third.

(With inputs from AP)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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